DOWNTOWN NEWS — All it took was one single word for Eric Garcetti to ignite the biggest media and social media firestorm of his still-young mayoralty. Of course, it was a planned-out word, and if you doubt it, then you also probably think the infamous Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake “nip slip” during the 2004 Super Bowl was actually an unintentional “wardrobe malfunction.”
I don’t know whether Garcetti planned the F-bomb heard ’round Los Angeles two days or two minutes before he let it fly during the Los Angeles Kings’ victory celebration on Monday, but whatever the case, the observation that the Stanley Cup celebration was “a big f-ing day” didn’t escape his lips in the heat of the moment at the microphone. Garcetti is smart and super careful, and he ran an entire successful mayoral campaign with the unofficial platform of “Just don’t screw up — Wendy Greuel will do that for us.” He isn’t about to torpedo his public standing, just when people are starting to whisper about him being a future governor, with something equivalent to Howard Dean’s primal scream during his 2004 presidential run.
Heck, Garcetti is so darn careful that even his flubs are choreographed. Well-placed and effective, but choreographed.
Calling him choreographed isn’t a criticism. Really. The Antonio Villaraigosa era showed just what happens when a mayor lacks focus and has a loose grip on his instincts (including the carnal ones). Garcetti is the Anti-Antonio (the Antitonio?), and though many reporters (myself included) have complained that he frequently lacks flash, he’s also not out there making promises that will never be kept.
However quickly it took Garcetti to weigh the pros and cons of an F-bomb, he’s emerged on the right side. He made light of the hubbub during a national appearance on “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” and got the tone just right.
Even the criticisms are pretty timid. Some complained that he stole the Kings’ thunder, but, no — they had a parade and a massive celebration. No one has overlooked the team’s second Stanley Cup championship in three years. If anything, the cup and the cursing were complementary.
Some tsk-tsked Garcetti over the children who might have been watching, and I get that, but only to a degree. I have a 5- and a 7-year-old, and if I thought that letting them watch TV at 2 p.m. on a weekday was a good idea, and was watching with them, I would have responded by not overreacting. Big kids know the word and utter it more frequently and far more colorfully than you and I (or Garcetti). Little kids latch on to new “bad” words only if you make a big deal out of them.
If there’s one thing that’s truly shocking, it’s that when Garcetti delivered the line, he held aloft a bottle of Bud Light. Garcetti seems like a microbrew guy, someone who would opt for a craft beer manufactured in Belgium or Eagle Rock. Does anyone really think that, if given his choice of beers, this mayor would ever select Bud Light.
Perhaps the most amusing thing about the whole f-ing situation is that I and a zillion others keep writing and saying “F-ing” and “F-bomb,” as propriety and, in the case of TV and radio, FCC regulations, make the actual seven letters prohibitive. My only real criticism of the word is that it’s overused, that people treat it as a synonym for “very.” If it has to be an adjective, reserve it for appropriate circumstances. I’m not offended by the word, but rather the laziness of trading “It’s very cold” for “It’s f-ing cold.”
With all that said, the thing about Garcetti’s comment is that, well, he was right. He chose precisely the right moment and the right conditions to veer away from being the Boy Scout mayor. It may have been an expletive, but it was accurate.
The Kings celebrating the Stanley Cup in a raucous Downtown Los Angeles celebration? Yeah, it was a big f-ing day.
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